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Degree Project: A scientific study of Saudi Arabia and Iran´s involvement in the Syrian conflict
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Political Science.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The first aim of this research has been about explaining the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Syrian conflict by using neoclassical realism as a point of departure. By applying this theory on this particular case it was the hope that a complex conflict becomes more understandable. Since neoclassical realism does take domestic factors into consideration, when explaining why a country behaves as it does on the international stage, it was therefore considered a good choice to use this theory when explaining why both countries are involved in the Syrian conflict. This study chose to focus on leaders religious identities as a domestic variable. What is more, a second domestic variable is the ability for the leaders to extract and use their country´s national resources in order to accomplish certain foreign policy goals. This study chose to focus on religion as a resource that both countries use in order to accomplish their respective goals in Syria. What this study wanted to show was that religion could be considered as a resource as well. In addition, the study wanted to expand national resource as a concept and argued that religion as a resource is not confined within one particular border, and is exclusive to one particular country, but instead transcends borders. Thus, religion is less a national but rather a transnational resource that other countries and actors use simultaneously. This study is characterized as a qualitative text analysis. The results showed that Saudi Arabia and Iran view each other as threats to their respective security, and ability to project power in the region. This has to a large extent to do with the leader´s opposite Islamic affiliations. Since Syria is a strategically important country for both Iran and Saudi Arabia, from which they can reduce one another’s ability to further project influence to the rest of the region, both countries foreign policy is to have Syria in their sphere of influence. This is done by supporting opposite religious groups in the conflict. These are Sunni and Shiite groups. Since several other countries and groups are dependent on religion to accomplish their respective goals in Syria, and that the same rebel groups that are being supported by the regimes could turn against them, religion as a resource then becomes more than just being a national one, it becomes transnational.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
distribution of power, religious identity, religion as a resource and foreign policy
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-19984OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-19984DiVA: diva2:868889
Available from: 2015-11-12 Created: 2015-11-12

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